Tonight is New Year’s Eve: at midnight the year 2015 ends, and 2016 begins! The fun part is that different places on Earth reach midnight at different times. Remember, half of Earth is in the dark at any time. So those people’s clocks say a time during the night, like 2 in the morning, and the people exactly on the other side of Earth say 2 in the afternoon. They’re in different “time zones.” Tonight Asia and Australia will reach midnight and start the new day —and new month and new year — before everybody else. Then countries in Europe and Africa will hit midnight, then the Americas and islands in the Pacific Ocean. So when it’s 10 at night for you, it’s turning midnight somewhere east of you, and it’s only 5 or 6 pm in places west of you where the sun is still shining. If you had a fast enough plane, you could keep flying west and celebrate midnight over and over…by the end you’d have no idea what year it is!
Wee ones: In 2016 you’ll turn 1 year older than you are now. How old will you be?
Little kids: If it’s 7:00 pm for you right now, what hours are left to count off until midnight? Bonus: London, England is 5 hours ahead of New York, and New York is 3 hours ahead of California. So how many hours ahead of California will London celebrate New Year’s?
Big kids: If right at midnight you jump on a plane, fly for 3 hours, and land somewhere that’s always 4 hours behind your time, will you get to celebrate New Year’s again once you land? Bonus: If at 11:44 pm you call friends who are an hour behind you, how long do they have until they get to celebrate midnight?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…add 1 to your age today!
Little kids: 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, and finally 12 midnight. Bonus: 8 hours.
Big kids: Yes. You’re leaving at midnight and landing at 3 in the morning your time, and they’re 4 hours behind, so it’s only 11 pm there! Bonus: 1 hour and 16 minutes, since at that moment it’s 10:44 pm for your friends.
And Happy New Year everyone!